Students to Connect Their Own Computers to Net

(8-15-97) -- All incoming students this fall will be able to rig their own personal computers to the Internet, an innovation that will smooth the back-to-school process by sharply decreasing the number of help calls to BC staff technicians at one of their busiest times of the year.

In partnership with American Internet, a Bedford, Mass., software company, BC has introduced technology that permits a campus computer users to automatically set the electronic "address" their machines require to send or receive information over the Internet.

Previously, many PC users had to call the Office of Information Technology for assistance in activating their machines' Internet hookups.

Self-activation of Internet addresses will measurably streamline the operations of the IT Office during the back-to-school rush. when thousands of new students are tying into the campus communications system, said Assistant Director for Advanced Technology Paul R. Dupuis.

"Before, if you wanted an address, you had to call someone. Multiply that by 4,000 employees or 6,000 students," said Dupuis. "If you're one of 10,000 people trying to reach a single person, you're going to encounter delays."

Internet activations used to busy 10 IT staffers for three weeks at the beginning of the fall semester, and one staffer for the entire year, all of whom will be freed for more pressing projects, Dupuis said.

The automatic Internet activation process was envisioned during the 1995 Agora Project that "wired" each student room for computer, telephone and cable television access, said Dupuis, but changes in Microsoft and Apple operating systems last year delayed the mechanism from being put fully into effect across campus.

Under the improved system, a new PC user on the Boston College network simply fills out an electronic form and is accorded a permanent address for his computer. Since the address goes with the machine, a new address isn't needed unless a new computer is acquired.

Pioneered at Boston College two years ago, the technology for the automatic assignment of Internet addresses is now being introduced to the general public by American Internet, Dupuis said.

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